DAY 72 – ORBE TO CHESEAUX

Yesterday we were joined by two other pilgrims Robert and Marc from Amersfoort in the Netherlands, the first we’ve encountered and been able to share our experiences with, which was lovely. Overnight we had a huge thunderstorm with torrential rain which seemed to go on for most of the night. It cooled the air, but the forecast was for more thunderstorms today.

Our street back to normal after yesterday’s brocante market

With the spectacular landscape of the Loue and Orbe Gorges so recent in our memories, it was always going to be tough for today’s walk to match. And so it was.

We left the town of Orbe by the Grand Pont, which lived up to its name carrying the road high above the river. As we dropped off the hill, so typical of such ancient cities, the modern raison d’etre became apparent as the huge Nestle factory and other industrial units came into view. Nestle also has a retail shop, but lacking extra carrying capacity we walked on by.

South end of the huge Nestle factory

Our route took us east to Chavornay along a busy road with much lorry traffic. Fortunately there was a separate cycle path for us to walk on. The valley here is wide, flat and fertile as demonstrated by the variety of crops including wheat, barley, potatoes, chard(?) and some sort of fodder root. Sadly, the Rivers Orbe and Talent have been engineered into dead straight channels here, presumably to improve drainage – and dead and lifeless they appeared, draining the land down to Lake Neuchatel.

Chavornay was pretty uninteresting apart from a 1918 peace memorial in some pretty gardens. From here we turned south eastwards and up into the wooded hills following the River Talent upstream. First we passed underneath a spectacular viaduct carrying the motorway overhead. High up on the adjacent slopes are vineyards, but of which varietal we know not.

The River Talent, even here, is highly engineered with multiple weirs and micro-hydrogeneration units. Following last night’s rain the river was high and coloured. We passed an interesting looking organic vegetable garden (BioSuisse), which seemed quite extensive, with a number of people at work.

Onward, a stiff climb through the woods up onto the ridge, where we found our lunch stop at Goemoens le Jux. The village lavoir provided the best shade even if the stone floor was a tad hard (and cold) for a lunchtime nap.

Woken by an approaching thunderstorm, we made a rapid exit to try to get east of it as fast as possible. But we failed.

Sitting, or standing, out the grandmother of all thunderstorms, we shared what shelter there was with a group of highland cattle for an hour or more while the storm raged around us. The adjacent stream turned from a trickle into a raging torrent in minutes, while we pondered the potential failure of the culverted road crossing holding back the stormwater. Hailstones the size of marbles were hurled at us, as if to punish us for something we know not what……

The stream rose from a trickle to a torrent in minutes…….
……..while we stood out the storm

Storm over, we headed south to Saint Barthelemy where we found a comfortable bus shelter to stop in, dry out and sort ourselves out. Bus shelters in Switzerland seem to have good seating, whilst in France there were no seats for weary passing walkers, not even the perches that have become fashionable in the UK.

Saint Bartelemy

Further on southwards, we meandered through more arable farmland, with much the same crops as earlier in the day, plus sunflowers looking bedraggled after the storm. We knew how they felt. On the way into the next village of Bioley-Orjutaz, there were extensive earthworks going on, with a long line of dumper trucks waiting for we weren’t sure what and several big diggers moving earth over an area of several acres. We couldn’t work out whether it was a large landfill site or a quarry being refilled, or something else entirely, and there were no signs to give us any clues.

In Bioley-Orjutaz the tiny reformed church built by the confraternity in 1903 was deconsecrated in 2005 and handed over to the village community. It wasn’t clear how it is now used, but it looked well maintained. The kind man sweeping up the lime tree debris outside the church offered to move aside to allow Julie to take a photo, though she didn’t have the heart to ask him to move his van which is what was really spoiling the picture.

Once through the village, another short stretch of walking on a minor road through woodland brought us into the village of Etagnieres which has an industrial area as well as a railway station. We began to get a sense of closeness to the city of Lausanne which we will have to cross tomorrow. In Etagnieres there were large building works going on with two big cranes being used. In fact we’d noticed earlier in the day that cranes were being used for building work in other villages, but then many of the houses are three or four storeys high and very large, often in multiple occupation.

We were able to skirt round the edge of Etagnieres to avoid walking on a busy main road, and then crossed over the main road to walk into the centre of Cheseaux-sur-Lausanne, our destination for the day. We arrived at our chambre d’hote with a sense of relief that we’d managed to miss another thunderstorm which we’d been watching brew up not far away.

Coming into Cheseaux with another storm brewing up

Scenically today was a bit frustrating in that there were no big views, just fairly flat rolling arable farmland and dramatic skies, but the walk up the river Talent from Chavornay was very pleasant and the villages were pretty. It is noticeable that property here is generally better maintained than in France, although with the tidiness there is perhaps less rustic charm.

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